Automotive stainless steel parts are often subjected to temperature cycling, to salt and humidity. The ability to mark the parts without reducing their thickness or adding unnecessary nooks and crannies that might bait rust in makes laser annealing the solution of choice for branding automotive parts.
Laser Workstation Developed for Laser Annealing of Flat Stainless Steel Parts
Laserax has developed a world-class expertise in inline laser direct part marking for traceability. Our industrial laser marker are robust and strive in some of the harshest industrial conditions. We also have a vast experience in laser cleaning and surface texturing. Read more about our mobile laser cleaning system on Laserax’s website. Or read other blog on Laserax's laser marking system. Under specific circumstances, we have brought offline our laser marking expertise.
In this post, we explain how a manually loaded workstation is used to anneal stainless steel parts with a compelling company logo. We will describe what laser was used, the options selected and the laser safety enclosure.
Laserax 2D fiber laser - LXQ
The laser is shown here with a laser source, controller and laser head.
This laser marking system is comprised of a 50 W laser from the LXQ Series. These types of lasers are ideally adapted to marking flat parts with distances between the aperture of the laser and the parts to be marked that will not vary, from part to part, within the marking field by more than +/- 3 mm (⅛ in). The laser is installed on the top of the enclosure. It will emit downward to the parts placed at the bottom of the enclosure.
Laser marking workstation
Several options were used in this workstation. Let’s quickly review them.
Fume Extractor and Filtration Unit
As the laser anneals the stainless steel parts, some fumes will be generated from the process. In most circumstances, it is advisable to use a fume extractor and filtration unit to keep the fumes away from the operator and ensure good quality marking. On the picture, the fume extractor and filtration unit can be found on the floor on the left-hand side. Too many fumes in the enclosure might disperse the laser and dirty the laser aperture. From time to time, the filter of the fume extractor will have to be replaced and properly disposed.
Vortex Cooled Cabinet for a Laser Source and Controllers
Laserax’s cabinet for a laser source and controllers provides protection from humidity and dust for the laser source and controllers. The laser source and controller cabinet is similar to many of Laserax’s products. It is attached to the table’s structure on the right-hand side of the picture.
Industrial Computer, Screen and Keyboard
A personal computer allows users to program the laser’s parameters and upload images, texts or DataMatrix code. All can be saved in a database of jobs that can be pulled out for a quick start of new work orders. The operator launches the marking operation from that interface.
For more information on DataMatrix codes, read our blog post or download our guide on Industrial Traceability: How Barcodes Work.
The complete kit features a sturdy ¾ in thick worktable that houses the enclosure, cabinet and personal computer.
Laser safety enclosure with laser head
Laser Safety Enclosure
For this application, a freestanding enclosure was used. The enclosure was developed to provide maximum protection to the operator. It is compliant with all requirements of a Class 1 laser safety enclosure.
The parts are to be branded with the customer’s logo. They are manually loaded in the enclosure. Once the door is closed, the operator uses a regular computer keyboard and screen to choose the job from a predefined list. The operator then launches the job and can wait for it to be completed or do something else while the part is branded.
Video of Laser Annealing on Stainless Steel
The enclosure can accommodate parts of up to 24 x 30 in. The vertical clear height of the door is approximately 20 x 30 in. The door is equipped with hinges along its top side as well as a strut to prevent accidental closure and keep the door open during the loading of the parts. The overhead clearance required for the enclosure with an open hatch is approximately 85 in high.
The footprint of the laser workstation is approximately 45 x 55 in.
There is a laser safety window on the front of the enclosure’s door that allows users to view the laser marking process. Note that kill switches will cut power to the laser when the door is opened. There is also an emergency stop button conveniently located on the front of the control panel. Laser marking can also be stopped with the computer interface.
Inside the enclosure, two parallel rails and a perpendicular slider on T-head screws allows users to position the parts or positioning jigs. The intake of the fume extractor is located at the bottom of the back wall of the enclosure.
Laser annealing in two colors
The laser workstation is comprised of a 2D infrared fiber laser, several options and a laser safety enclosure that ensures a safe working environment for all employees. The laser is perfectly adapted to either etching most metals or for annealing steel and stainless steel. If you feel that this workstation can be a solution for your direct part marking and traceability needs, our laser specialists will be pleased to provide you with a quote or to answer any questions you may have about the laser marking workstation or other Laserax products.